Skip to content

Five Q’s: Penguins-Senators preview

May 14, 2013, 11:46 AM EDT

Sidney Crosby Getty Images

Will Tomas Vokoun still be the man?

It was hard to imagine Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma not going back to the 36-year-old backup that won Games 5 and 6 versus the Islanders after regular starter Marc-Andre Fleury stumbled rather badly. Vokoun stopped all but three of the 69 shots he faced, registering a save percentage of .957. Fleury, on the other hand, finished the first round with a .891 save percentage. If Bylsma still feels his best chance of winning the Stanley Cup is with Fleury, or if there’s a sense of loyalty there, he can always wait for Vokoun to slip up. And if Vokoun doesn’t slip up, all the better.

Can the Penguins get out of their end?

When Pittsburgh escaped Long Island, Pens captain Sidney Crosby said his team needed to do a better job of breaking out of its own end of the ice. That’s mostly on the defensemen, but it also falls on the forwards to help the blue-liners by being in better position to receive passes. If the Sens are smart, they’ll be getting in hard on the forecheck and trying to force turnovers. Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and company will have to manage the puck better than they did in the first round.

Will Matt Cooke be a target?

Or, do most Senators — unlike their owner — feel he didn’t intentionally injure Erik Karlsson back in February? Maybe it won’t even matter. According to Crosby, the Cooke-Karlsson narrative is one that could quickly become a distant memory. “You’ve got to win games,” said Crosby. “There are always storylines in a playoff series. This one’s easy because of what happened, but there’ll be something else after Game 1. It’s the playoffs.”

Will Jason Spezza be back?

Ottawa’s leading scorer from last year didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh as he continues to rehab from back surgery. It’s possible he could play at some point in the series, but there’s no timeline for his return. “I want to play, I want to back out there,” he said on Sunday. “I don’t want to have any pain. I wish I could the play the next game. It’s all going to be about how I respond. I’ve got to push myself. That’s why we’re really going to try and push forward in the next three days. It might tell me that it’s not time to play and it might respond real well, but I would be lying if I tried to give you a straight answer (on a return date).”

Pens’ power play or Sens’ penalty kill?

Led by the likes of Crosby, Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal, Pittsburgh boasted the NHL’s second-best power play (24.7%) during the regular season and scored seven times with the man advantage versus the Islanders. Ottawa, though, had the league’s top-ranked PK in 2013 (88.0%), helped in large part by the great goaltending it received from Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner, and Ben Bishop.

For all the second-round playoff previews, click here.

Related: Pens stick with Vokoun for Game 1 vs. Ottawa

  1. eigglesnosuperbowls - May 14, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    The flenators will create more traffic in front of pitts backup making it more difficult for the backup than the flylanders did look for an abundance of garbage goals against the trash bag team from pitt flenators love ugly hockey

    • bgrillz - May 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      And you must be unemployed. Because every single Pens related article, you comment on. Too bad for all of us, there will be articles posted for the next 2 months. Get over it, they are a good team. They won’t roll anyone, any team with pride is going to be a tough out(I’m looking at you Vancouver!). Pens in 6.

      • eigglesnosuperbowls - May 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        These a flenators articles

      • crosberries - May 14, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        He’s actually the unemployed wigger 40+ year old virgin who’s prostitue mom made him a crack FAS baby

    • fbothharbaughs - May 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Yeah! The Douche is back!! Just finished cleaning the balls after the 18th hole of the foursome of Gingeroux, Hartnell, Bryzgalov & Briere…

  2. rsl22 - May 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    As a Caps fan (and leaving aside last night’s Game 7 an*l r*ping), I have decades of experience watching what a good goalie can do to a seemingly very good team. Flyers fans have a similar knowledge base…

    With Vokoun in net, the Pens may actually be able to play hockey and not worry about what bonehead play the goalie is going to make next. Anderson on the other hand isn’t just serviceable/reliable, but he can change a game on his own.

    I’d bet the Pens heavily outshoot the Sens, but if Anderson is on his game he can steal a few, and the Sens have a few guys with a lot of speed that can make life tough on the Pens D like the Isles did.

    I really dislike the Pens, but without the Caps, I can’t not watch to see what Crosby can do, and how Vokoun/Anderson handle the play. Hopefully the refs keep their whistles tucked away and let good teams play a tough series.

    • govtminion - May 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      One of the things I used to notice about Anderson in Colorado was that he almost seemed to play better the more he was getting shelled. He’d play fine if he faced 30 shots, but he’d play out of his mind if he faced 45. This could be a big challenge for the Pens. I sure hope it is, anyway- I’d love to see this series go the distance.

      • rsl22 - May 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        I think the real test is, if he’s getting shelled, is he holding on to the rebounds? If he’s a vacuum, and not giving the Pens second chances, that could really frustrate the Pens. They score a lot in tight, even Crosby gets most of his goal from in the crease. Sutter, Iginla, Morrow, Neal, etc., those are big guys that can get dirty.

        In the Caps-Rangers series, Lundqvist was so impressive with his ability to hold on to pucks. When a goalie hangs on to rebounds, it makes life so much easier for the D. With Anderson, if he can hang on to rebounds, the D will really benefit.

  3. steelpenbucs87 - May 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    I like the Pens depth on offense compared to the Senators. Could see some of the speed and physicality on the third and fourth lines giving the Sens D pairings trouble after chasing Crosby, Malkin, et. al around all game.

    Pens in 6 – each game is a race to 3 goals.

  4. sens101 - May 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    The sens need to be extremely physical with the Pens, especially Malkin who has shown in the past that if your physical with him, he may back down a little bit. With that being said the sens need to be smart and not run around looking for hits but finishing checks whenever possible. The only way we win the series is if we stay disciplined and limit the pens pp opportunities and pressure the hell out of the pens d. The isles did this pretty well and caused a lot of turnovers. If we can do this we have a fighting change. Win or lose, I’m proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished so far and know they will be even better next year for what they’ve gone through. Go sens GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 8man - May 14, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I just wonder if the Pens are ready to put on their O face. Oh, oh, Ohhh-ttawa! I’m being crazy. Picking the Sens to win the series. Maybe the whole damn conference.

  6. odj810 - May 14, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    tough out for pitt. I think it goes the distance with Pitt winning a close game 7

  7. colossal87 - May 14, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Can’t wait to see Cooke slice & dice em up. Guaranteed Thickney Crosby has 4 goals. Lets move onto game 2 already, this ones in the sack for The Franchise

  8. jacketsfan7 - May 15, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    Pens power-play

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1870)
  2. P. Kane (1650)
  3. M. Richards (1358)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1357)
  5. N. Backstrom (1216)